Innocuous items such as fertilisers, nail polish remover and even pepper can be combined in a deadly concoction to make home-made explosives (HMEs).
This was just some of the information shared during a one-day workshop organised by Certified Counter Terrorism Practitioner (CCTP) on Monday (20 November).
Course participants – comprising senior management-level representatives from government agencies and the private sector – were shown some of the common materials that could be used in a home-made bomb, and taught how to respond appropriately. They were also shown what some Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) looked like.
CCTP conducts certified courses and workshops for government agencies, the private sector and security professionals in terrorism prevention, detection and deterrence.
The session was conducted by Michael D Montoya, a former US Marine with over 15 years’ experience in explosive ordinance disposal (EOD), who stressed that the training is not just for equipping security personnel but that members of the public should also learn to be aware of their surroundings and alert the authorities when necessary.
Montoya added that if members of the public sense something amiss in their neighbourhood, they should start asking questions.
He said, “With chemical production – whether its narcotics, drugs or explosives – a lot of them have distinct smells. A lot of them are pretty foul to our system. If you smell something that doesn’t smell right, the biggest thing is that we should ask, ‘What’s the problem?’”
Course participants were also taught the dos and don’ts of approaching or discovering hazardous materials. Some home-made explosive compounds are so sensitive that they can be activated by a camera flash or even a change in temperature, said Montoya.
One attendee, Yusof Lateef, told reporters that his key takeaway from the session was to learn to identify and devise programmes for people to be in the lookout to keep premises safe.
Yusof is the director for corporate communications for Mini Environment Service (MES), which provides dormitories for foreign workers. MES houses some 24,000 workers.
“In the nature of my job, which deals with foreign worker housing, this is also something important that we’re able to identify and devise our programmes in-house for our workers to ensure that they act as our ambassadors to be on the lookout and keep premises safe,” said Yusof.
“The simplest of items can be made use of for an IED… it’s something that’s very worrying,” he added.
Yusof said that he intends to use what he learnt from the workshop to educate his operations officers of potential security threats when inspecting dormitories.
Another participant, Chris Holmes, flew in from Melbourne, Australia, just to attend the course. Holmes is the director of a security company which deploys security services.
“The power of observation coupled with natural curiosity and awareness is the basis for everything we do in the security industry,” he said.